Benefits of Biowaste Use in Soil Formation

Gibbs, P., Chambers, B., Bhogal, A., and Holmes, S., ADAS Gleadthorpe


This ongoing study is examining the potential beneficial effects of co-composted green/food
waste and municipal solid waste (MSW) fines (Biowaste) use as an organic amendment in
soil formation, and in the establishment of biomass crops/amenity grassland. Biowaste was
applied at selected rates (in the range 0 to 1,200 t/ha fresh weight) at a quarry site in
Northamptonshire, followed by the establishment of a range of biomass crops (miscanthus,
willow and reed canary grass) or amenity grassland (rye grass). One year after
establishment, a range of soil chemical, biological and physical properties were measured,
and biomass/ryegrass dry matter yields. Significant (P < 0.05) increases in topsoil organic
matter and total nitrogen (N) levels, and extractable nitrate-N, phosphorus, potassium,
magnesium and sulphur concentrations were measured on the Biowaste treatments
compared with the untreated control. Similarly, there were increases (P < 0.05) in microbial
biomass N and respiration rates, and decreases (P < 0.05) in bulk density on the Biowaste
treatments. Overall, the Biowaste additions had measurable and beneficial effects on a large
number of soil (chemical, physical and biological) properties, with significant improvements in
topsoil fertility, aeration and porosity, and ryegrass crop yields.

Biowaste, compost, soil formation, soil quality

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